Next Tuesday, Barack Obama will be sworn in as our 44th President. On this historic occasion, PARADE asked the President-elect, who is also a devoted family man, to get personal and tell us what he wants for his children. Here, he shares his letter to them.
Dear Malia and Sasha,
I know that you've both had a lot of fun these last two years on the campaign trail, going to picnics and parades and state fairs, eating all sorts of junk food your mother and I probably shouldn't have let you have. But I also know that it hasn't always been easy for you and Mom, and that as excited as you both are about that new puppy, it doesn't make up for all the time we've been apart. I know how much I've missed these past two years, and today I want to tell you a little more about why I decided to take our family on this journey.
When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me-about how I'd make my way in the world, become successful, and get the things I want. But then the two of you came into my world with all your curiosity and mischief and those smiles that never fail to fill my heart and light up my day. And suddenly, all my big plans for myself didn't seem so important anymore. I soon found that the greatest joy in my life was the joy I saw in yours. And I realized that my own life wouldn't count for much unless I was able to ensure that you had every opportunity for happiness and fulfillment in yours. In the end, girls, that's why I ran for President: because of what I want for you and for every child in this nation.
I want all our children to go to schools worthy of their potential-schools that challenge them, inspire them, and instill in them a sense of wonder about the world around them. I want them to have the chance to go to college-even if their parents aren't rich. And I want them to get good jobs: jobs that pay well and give them benefits like health care, jobs that let them spend time with their own kids and retire with dignity.
I want us to push the boundaries of discovery so that you'll live to see new technologies and inventions that improve our lives and make our planet cleaner and safer. And I want us to push our own human boundaries to reach beyond the divides of race and region, gender and religion that keep us from seeing the best in each other.
Sometimes we have to send our young men and women into war and other dangerous situations to protect our country-but when we do, I want to make sure that it is only for a very good reason, that we try our best to settle our differences with others peacefully, and that we do everything possible to keep our servicemen and women safe. And I want every child to understand that the blessings these brave Americans fight for are not free-that with the great privilege of being a citizen of this nation comes great responsibility.
That was the lesson your grandmother tried to teach me when I was your age, reading me the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence and telling me about the men and women who marched for equality because they believed those words put to paper two centuries ago should mean something.
She helped me understand that America is great not because it is perfect but because it can always be made better-and that the unfinished work of perfecting our union falls to each of us. It's a charge we pass on to our children, coming closer with each new generation to what we know America should be.
I hope both of you will take up that work, righting the wrongs that you see and working to give others the chances you've had. Not just because you have an obligation to give something back to this country that has given our family so much-although you do have that obligation. But because you have an obligation to yourself. Because it is only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential.
These are the things I want for you-to grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach, and to grow into compassionate, committed women who will help build that world. And I want every child to have the same chances to learn and dream and grow and thrive that you girls have. That's why I've taken our family on this great adventure.
I am so proud of both of you. I love you more than you can ever know. And I am grateful every day for your patience, poise, grace, and humor as we prepare to start our new life together in the White House.
~You can do no great things -- only small things with great love. ~What you must do is all that concerns you, not what the people think. ~Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. ~Change is not merely necessary to life, it is life. ~Seven days without a smile makes one weak. ~There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something. ~He who has a why to live can bear almost anyhow. ~Happiness is not a destination. It is a method of life. ~One that would have the fruit must climb the tree. ~If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living. ~The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend. ~My eyes are an ocean in which my dreams are reflected. ~One of the secrets of a long and fruitful life is to forgive everybody everything every night before going to bed. ~Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work. ~You must learn to translate wisdom and strong feelings into labor. ~Wisdom is knowing what to do next, skill is knowing how to do it, and virtue is doing it. ~Life engenders life. Energy creates energy.
Dear Children, Good Morning! ~Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well. Then youth will be delightful, old age will bring few regrets, and life will become a beautiful success.” ~Difficulties are meant to rouse not discourage.The human spirit is grown strong from conflict. ~The best of a book is not the thought which it contains,but the thought which it suggests. ~It is the nature of man to rise to greatness if greatness is expected of him. ~Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.
~ The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order. ~ Happiness is a conscious choice, not an automatic response. ~ Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. ~ It is in the shelter of each other that the people live. ~ The future will occur when we are in the present. ~ You build your reality on the thoughts you agree are true. Do everything with a mind that lets go. Do not expect praise or reward ~ The Gift of Time : Time with yourself to reflect and grow Time with others to develop and build powerful relationships
I have created this spot on the web to record some of the letters written by my parents to us, their children. Their letters / email communications have been a blend of many things derived from their experiences and from their extensive reading and interactions with people around them.
Though the content of the blog is purely personal messages relating to the writers and their wards, I believe they may be of use to others. I also believe that there is no thick boundary line between individual and social thinking. And it may also be not uncommon that social thinking becomes individual thinking and vice-versa.
I greatly appreciate various artists whose work I am making use of in making this blog.